After a heartbreaking overtime loss in East Lansing earlier this season, the Badgers seek revenge when the Michigan State Spartans invade the Kohl Center this Sunday.
""We've usually given ourselves a chance to win by making the other team play from behind,"" Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said.
Ryan's defensive-minded philosophy to play from ahead creates a Wisconsin team that is nearly unbeatable at home. Ryan boasts a 147-11 home record, including a 74-6 record against in-conference foes, during his time as Wisconsin's head coach. This year, the Badgers have only added to Ryan's success at the Kohl Center, winning all 15 of their home games.
""Any time you have 17,000-plus cheering for you, it's going to give you an extra boost of energy,"" senior forward Tim Jarmusz said. ""You feel more comfortable because you know the atmosphere.""
The home-court advantage was certainly on display Tuesday night when Wisconsin defeated over No. 10 Purdue. Coming off a close loss at Penn State, the Badgers needed the Kohl Center crowd to claim a 66-59 victory over the Boilermakers. Senior forward Jon Leuer tallied game-highs with 24 points and 13 rebounds, junior guard Jordan Taylor added 15 points and sophomore forward Ryan Evans finished off Purdue with a few clutch plays in the final minute.
A quintessential Wisconsin first half had the Badgers entering the locker room with a 27-19 advantage. However, the Boilermakers would not go away; Purdue racked up 40 points in the second half against the Badgers' top ranked Big Ten defense and even claimed a seven-point lead with 11:37 left in the game. Then, the home-court took over.
""You need to be able to play the last couple minutes of the game,"" Purdue head coach Matt Painter said.
This season's initial matchup between the Badgers and the Spartans was eerily similar to Wisconsin's most recent test with Purdue. The only differences were the Badgers were the road team and, more importantly, that Michigan State came to play down the stretch.
The Badgers opened up a 19-7 lead nearly a month ago in East Lansing. Over the remainder of the game, the Badgers lost their composure, turning the ball over a season-high 11 times and allowing Michigan State to end regulation on a 9-0 run.
Do not expect many similarities in Sunday's rematch. Both the Badgers and the Spartans are entirely different teams. The Spartans were a Big Ten frontrunner with a 3-1 conference record; now they are fighting to make the tournament and playing without suspended junior guard and team assist-leader Korie Lucious.
The Badgers were fighting for nationwide recognition; now they are a legitimate top-20 team coming off of four wins in their past five games. Contrastingly, Michigan State has lost four of their last five games, including Wednesday's 20-point shellacking to Big Ten bottom feeder, Iowa.
While the script may be different heading into Sunday's rematch, the end goal remains the same.
""Whether you're on the road or at home, a win is a win and a loss is a loss,"" Taylor said.